TOEFL & IELTS skills - Notetaking


Hi. Welcome back to I'm Adam. Today's lesson is going to be for those of

you who are going to take the TOEFL or IELTS test. So just so you understand, I will be

speaking at a more natural speed. It will be a little bit faster than some of you are

used to. But listen anyway, and watch. It's very good for listening practice, and it will

be helpful regardless. So today's lesson is specifically about note taking skills. I'm

going to concentrate on the TOEFL, but it is also very useful for the people taking

an IELTS test. Now, if you've seen my time management class for IELTS, you will realize

that in the listening section, it's very important to know how to take notes. You don't want

to waste time concentrating on spelling and writing full words while the recording is playing

because you have time at the end to transfer your answers. That's when you want to write

correctly spelled answers and everything. You want to just make sure during the listening

section that you write enough to know what the word is. We're going to get into that

a little bit later. What I want to concentrate on mostly, though, is the TOEFL test, okay?

Because in the TOEFL test, it is crucial that you know how to take notes. Why? You have

a listening section; you have a speaking section; you have a writing section, all of which have

a listening component. Remember; this is an integrated test. You're going to have to listen

in each one of these sections. Okay?

In the listening section, what many people don't realize who haven't taken a test yet:

You don't see anything. Okay? You don't see the questions as you're listening to the lectures

or whatever you're listening to. So it's very, very important that you take notes as you're

listening so that when the questions do come, you have the information in front of you,

you know how to answer it, okay?

In the speaking section, you may be given a short conversation to listen to and then

be given a question, and you have to speak your answer. But if you don't remember what

they spoke about, then, you can't answer the question properly.

In the writing section, you havein Task 1, you have to compare a reading section with

a listening section. And then, you have to write an answer comparing the two. So if you

don't take notes during the listening component of Task 1, it's very difficult to write your

answer. Okay? So note taking skillsvery important throughout the TOEFL test.

So first of all, before we look at how to do it, let's look at what you need to concentrate

on as you're listening. Okay? Now, another thing to remember before I even start: This

takes practice. This is a skill that you have to sharpen, that you have to practice with

every day before you go out to take your test.

Okay. Now, the first mistake people make is they thinkthey try to write down every

word they hear. Impossible. Okay? Unless you're a stenographerthat's a person who works

in court and writes down every word that the people in the courtroom are saying, lawyers,

judges, defendants, etc., witnessesyou cannot write every word. Don't try. You don't

need to write every word. You need to concentrate on the details that are important, on the

information that is important.

Now, what you need to focus on are the big, general ideas. You need to understand generally

what is being spoken about, what is the topic, what is the subject. For example, is it science?

Is it history? Is it arts? You need to understand the general ideas because they're not going

to ask you very, very specific questions, right? And if they do, they're going to give

you some information. They're going to give you something to listen to again. Or they're

going to give you a very specific word.

So, details. Do you need to concentrate on every little detail? No. You'll be writing

all the time, not listening. Stick to the big ideas. Butokay, sorry. Having said

that, technical wordsif they give you some scientific word or some technological

word, do you need to know it? No. They will give it to you in the question. You will see

it in the question, and you'll remember, "Oh, yeah. This is the technical word." There will

be technical words that even native speakers have no idea how to write or what they mean

or what they are. You don't need to either. What you need to listen to is the explanation

of what the technical word refers to or means because the word itself, they will give you

in the questions.

Headings, divisions, lists: These are the most important things you're listening for.

For example, you're listening to a lecture in a university classroom, and the professor

says, "So today, we're going to look at three reasons why fracking is bad." "Fracking" — you

don't need to know. From a general ideayou will have an idea what "fracking" means. But

"fracking" spelling? You don't need to know. Specifically, the details of how fracking

works, you don't need to know. What you do need to listen to are the three reasons. So

he's dividing the lecture into three topics. Make sure that you create a heading for each


So the first reason is pollution. Write down "pollution". And then you can take notes under

it if you need to. The second reason is expense. Write down "expense" and whatever information

comes after that. The third reasonwhatever. You get the gist, I think. By the way, I hope

you know this word, "gist". "Gist" is the general idea. That's what you're listening

for. If they're about the present a list, try to write down the list because this is

probably important, okay?

So in the listening section, don't sit there with your eyes closed and try to remember

everything you hear. You cannot do it. There will be quite a few questions for each listening

section. You need to make sure that you have the information on a piece of paper in front

of you. When you go to the TOEFL center, they will give you paper. They will give you a

pencil. That's what it is for: to take notes. Use it.

Next. In the speaking section, much shorter listening sections, but very important. What

are you listening for? You're listening for dates and times. For example, "Oh, yeah. Let's

meet next Tuesday." The "text Tuesday", you have to be careful; it's not "this Tuesday",

for example. Times, a.m., p.m. — you don't need specifically 5:14; you need to understand

afternoon, morning, evening, etc.

If people are making plans, make sure you understand what the plans are. Meet here,

do this with these people. That's the information you want to write down. If somebody agrees

or disagrees with something, write that down. If somebody makes an excuse — "Do you want

to come to my party next week?" "No, I can't. I have to take my mother shopping." Write

that down, "mother, shopping". You don't have to write, "He has to take his mother shopping."

No. Don't do that. "Mother, shopping" — done.

Okay. Which goes with this? Accept, reject. Somebody makes an invitation. Does the person

accept or reject? He accepts and goes. If he rejects, make sure you know what the excuse

is. Okay? Because they'll ask you for that.

Purpose. There's going to be a meeting. Okay. Meetingnot important. What is the meeting

about? Write that down. That is important. Or the reasonreason and excuses: similar,

but a bit different. Reason for doing something, excuse for not doing something. Okay? So this

is only the listening and speaking. Let's look at the writing and section, what you

need to do there.

Okay. So now, let's look at the writing section. What are you doing in the writing section?

Remember that you have a short reading passage. You're given a little bit of time. You could

already start taking your notes as you're reading. But for some people, the reading

takes some time. Concentrate on the reading. Get the idea. What are the supporting, what

are the attacking, what is their argument. What examples are they using? Then, when you're

doing your listening, you're listening forfirst thing you're listening for: Are they

supporting or attacking the reading? Okay? Because the question is going to ask you how

are they supporting or attacking the reading? So this is what you have to pay attention

for. If they are supporting, what point are they making? If they are attacking, what are

the points they're making? Again, big points, major points as compared to the reading.

Also, if the listening uses any names, like a company name or a person's name as an example

of supporting or attacking, try to write down that name. This will get you a lot of points

with the graders if they can see that you wrote down the name and used it in your short


Examples. Any examples that they use to support or attack? Again, don't give me all the details,

but give me the general idea of the example, especially if the example was also used in

the reading. Okay? And then, use all of these in your little essay to show the differences.

So now you know what you're listening for. Now, the hard part is actually doing the note

taking, the writing things down. You're going to be learning how to use codes. Now, before

I go over some of these, it's very, very important that you understand that these are some examples

I'm giving you. You need to create your own codes that work for you. If I'm taking notes

on an essayon the listening section, for exampleI know what all these mean. These

are my codes. You might not know what this means, "w/". You may have to practice a little

while until you remember it. But make your own codes, something that you will remember

when it's time to use it for the listening section, the speaking section, the writing


So here's a little sample of codes. Some of these, you know from your texting on your

phone. You will never have to use LOL, OMG, BBF on the TOEFL, but good to know that they


I have a b; I have a 4 — b4. I have an L; I have an 8 — L8. Add an R — L8R. Okay?

Upgo up, increase, raise, grow. Downgo down, decrease, decelerate, slow down, whatever

you need. Anything that shows going down, anything that shows going up.

4 — why did he go to the store? For milk — 4 milk. Etc.

2 — could be "to", "too", or "two". Although very rarely will you have to actually worry

about numbers because that's details.

Timesfive X as many. So there are five times as many people in that class as this

class. So five X people. That's it. Class A, B, 5X — that's it.

Minus, less. Plus, in addition. Up 2 — means maximum. Down 2 — minimum. Approximately

this is my sign. It means not equal, but close to. So approximately. Greater than — A

is more than B. Less than. Equal. With something. Without something.

H2O. What is "H2O"? You dink it every day. Water. Any little code that you can use to

help you write things quickly and remember things quickly, especially things like this

TOEFL for some reason loves science things. They love science lectures. They love science

articles. Be very comfortable with those because you're going to see a lot of them.

Now, the next thing we're going to look at is abbreviations, which are just as important

as the codes. And again, something that you're going to have to practice and work on, but

I'll give you a little bit of a sample to get you started.

Okay. So now we get into the area where it's really more up to you to create your own master

list and practice it and study it so on test day, you can use it and not have any problems.

We're looking at abbreviations. An "abbreviation" means taking a word and squeezing it, making

it shorter. So the abbreviation for abbreviation is "abbr." Okay? Abbreviation. The most important

thing to remember is that you must remember what "abbr." means. If I see "abbr." In any

document, I will automatically understand this means "abbreviation". Some of these are

very common. Everybody used them. Some of them, you will have to make your own, and

I'll show you how to do that as well.

So for example, you have to be careful sometimes. You have to make yourself little changes,

like with a dot. So "inc." if I have only "inc" without a dot, I understand "increase".

Okay? If I see "inc." with a dot, I understand "incorporate". Okay? Same with "co" without

a dot is "company"; "co." with a dot — "corporation". Or "cor." — depends how you want to do it.

Now, sometimes, you have some of them that look very similar, only one letter difference,

right? "App" for me means "application". "Appt" means "appointment". "Acct" means "account".

"Accm" means "accommodation". "Accp" means "accompany". "Act" — "active" or "action".

You also have the shortened version of Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms., and Dr. Okay?

Sometimes, you can use the slash. Everything, nothing. Something, somewhere, anywhere, etc.

Whatever — w/e. "Etc." means "and so on like that". "Ie." means "in other words", so you

can use another way of saying the same thing. "Eg." means "example". So if you hear, for

example, in the listening, you do "eg.", and then write the example. "n.b.", nota bene,

means "note well", means very important point. Keep that in mind. If somebody in the lecture

says "n.b." or "nota bene", make sure you write down what he or she says. President,

chairman, etc.

Make your own list. If you're not sure how to do it, the easiest way is take any word;

take out all the vowels. So you have the word "responsible". How are you going to write

it as an abbreviation? I'll just write "rsp", responsible. But I would remember that "rsp"

means "responsible". Or if you want to just put onesorry. "Resp" — "resp" sounds

like " responsible". Okay? So remember it that way.

Another thing you can useanother way to remember these things and take notes is using

acronyms. Acronyms are basically the initials of something. Each letter stands for something.

B.A., Bachelor of Arts. B.Sc, I forgot to write down. "Bachelor of Science". B.Ed, Bachelor

of Education, and so on. Master of Arts. PhD. — doctorate or post-graduate.

IBMInternational Business Machine, big company name. CIACentral Intelligent Agency,

in the States. IRSInternal Revenue Services, part of the tax company of the government.

a.m. — morning. p.m. — afternoon or evening. But notice here, "p.m." with dots and "PM"

without the dots or the dot is after. "p.m." — afternoon, evening. "PM" — "prime minister".

Okay? So all these little things have a huge impact. But once you master how to do this

and believe me; it takes a lot of practice. Once you know how to do this, then you can

go into the TOEFL test; your listening section becomes much easier, speaking section, writing

section. Everything is much easier because you have the information in front of you when

it's time to answer the questions. Okay?

Now, we're just going to do one more thing. I'm going to show you an example. We're going

to take a complicated sentence, sort of. I'm going to reduce it to code, and you'll see

more or less how it's done. It's not easy, but let's look at it.

Okay. So now we're going to look at an example. Now, first of all, keep in mind you're seeing

this; you're not hearing ittwo very different things. But I just wanted to give you an idea

of what I want you to practice doing, and you can of course do that on your own. Lots

of places to do it. I'll give you a couple examples. I'm going to redo the sentence,

and then I'm going to show you how this area means the same thing. Okay? You're not necessarily

going to have to write this much detail. You're not going to have to write down a whole sentence,

but just to show you how it works.

"With the advent of the information age, as well as widespread access to this information

via technological advances in communication, came a new threat for civil protection agencies

to tackle.

Now, if you're taking the TOEFL, you should know what everything means. It should be not

— "advent" means, like, think about "advance", something is progressing. "Tackle" means,

basically, "fight". "Threat", something that's dangerous to you or could be harmful to you.

But anything else, you really should know all these words if you're ready for the TOEFL.


So what did I do here? The advent of information. The increase inor the going up, in this

case "advances" — information technology, communication. New threat for copscivil

protection agencies, what are they? They're cops, police. Cops to fight.

Everything here in a short little thing like this, this takes you ten seconds to write.

Meanwhile, you can continue listening and go on to other things. Okay?

Now, again, I will say this a thousand times if I have to. You need to practice this. This

is not easy to do quickly. You need to do this and continue listening at the same time.

In the speaking and writing sections especially, you're listening for specific things that

may play into the question that's coming. Right? You can practice all these. Now, if

you know, it's a good website. There are lots of lectures. CNN also. You

can go get listening sectionsyou can listen to news or you can listen to lectures, but

they also have transcripts, okay? So you can practice your note taking skills, listen two,

three, four timesas many times as you need. Take notes. Then, look at the transcripts

and compare your notes to the transcripts. How close do you come? And believe me; the

more you do it, the better you'll get at it, just like anything else. It's a skill at the

end of the day. And it's a very important skill if you want to succeed on the TOEFL

test. Okay?

Now, if you go to, I'll give you a few more examples like this. I'll give

you some sentences like this, and you'll try to match them to the correct long sentence

and vice versa. So go to for extra practice and questions. Also, check

out my new site, and subscribe to my channel on YouTube. And I'll see you

again soon. Thanks.